Movie Review: Lars and the Real Girl

Every week, a new over-hyped blockbuster debuts on the silver screen. While big budget films are often fun to watch, I find myself bored with the same-old quintessential Hollywood movie. More artsy and less hyped-up films tend to pose more intriguing story lines. So, I jumped at the chance to see “Lars and the Real Girl,” directed by rookie Craig Gillespie. Lars (Ryan Gosling), an awkward, shy young man, returns to his northern home after living for a long time next to his brother, Gus (Paul Schneider), and his sister-in-law, Karin (Emily Mortimer). Despite his family’s attempts to connect with him, Lars stays distant until one day he claims he has met the girl of his dreams. However, his family and the town are shocked to discover that this girl is merely a sex doll that Lars ordered online. Regardless, Lars maintains the belief that this doll is a living, breathing human. Realizing that Lars is suffering from a delusion, the town decides to treat Lars’ new girlfriend, Bianca, like a real girl. As Lars begins to come to terms with reality and open up about his troubled past, the town slowly falls in love with this strangely intriguing love story. At first glance, “Lars and the Real Girl” seems to be a stereotypical gross comedy. However, you shouldn’t judge it too quickly. Despite the fact that the plot revolves around a man falling in love with a sex doll, “Lars and the Real Girl” is a sweet movie that manages to entertain on so many different levels. “Lars and the Real Girl” is one of those movies that would fall flat if not for the impressive acting. Luckily, the casting was spot-on. Lars, a troubled character, is not an easy personality to represent. But Gosling’s portrayal of Lars is probably the best thing about this film. It’s a sweet, heart-wrenching performance that has landed him on Oscar watch for Best Actor. If there is one reason to see “Lars and the Real Girl,” it’s to be amazed at Gosling’s honest acting. Another huge achievement in this movie was Emily Mortimer’s performance. Providing a lot of the movie’s humor, Mortimer turned a possibly boring character into a fleshed-out person; she truly connected with her character, and it showed. Without her, “Lars” would have severely suffered. In addition to Ryan Gosling and Emily Mortimer, who delivered some of the best performances I’ve seen this year, the rest of the cast gave solid performances as well. Acting-wise, “Lars and the Real Girl” is about as good as it gets. On a different note, it’s interesting how the director chose to film “Lars and the Real Girl.” Often times, the cinematography is simple and almost not worth mentioning. However, as a scene builds or a major event is about to happen, the shots suddenly become more focused. The climactic moments are filmed with skill that adds to the stress of the scene. The shift in focus in the shots can really add to the intrigue of the scene. Craig Gillespie has really done a great job of mixing quaint shots with real attention grabbers. “Lars and the Real Girl” also has a strikingly creative plot. To create a serious movie based on such an absurd plot idea was a risky decision, but it is carried out very, very well. The script might seem a little strange at first, but the quirkiness and originality shines throughout the entire film. All too often, the same garbage gets recycled in Hollywood. It’s really nice to see an ambitious project done so well. So, the question now becomes, where does “Lars” falter? The movie is filled with awkward moments, which isn’t a bad thing by itself. However, the beginning tends to drag on, making the awkward scenes so much more uncomfortable. It’s a tough movie to get into, and I felt like 20 minutes of the film could have been edited out to benefit the entire movie. While the middle and end are certainly worth the watch, the beginning might be a turn-off. It’s a shame, really; “Lars and the Real Girl” could have been perfect, if only the pace quickened. When it comes down to it, “Lars and the Real Girl” is a great film that suffers from some boring moments. It’s one of those movies that you’ll either love or hate, but personally, I loved it. You probably want to wait until DVD to check this one out because it might not click with you. But, when you can find it in the nearest Blockbuster, pick it up. It might just unexpectedly charm you. Grade: 5